How did Qatar become a heavy burden that sank Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

A screen displays the logo of Morocco 2026 inside of the reception before a conference to promote Morocco's bid for the 2026 World Cup. (AP)

The Moroccan street faced a great disappointment after their country failed to win the honor of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026 after losing to the united bid of America, Canada and Mexico.

This Moroccan failure came as part of a series of attempts to host the World Cup  that first began in 1994, then again in 1998, 2006, 2010 before finally ending after losing their candidacy for the 2026 edition.

Morocco’s efforts were highly supported by Saudi Arabia, before it reached its peak when Rabat decided to bid for the 2006 World Cup.

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Prince Moulay Rachid, son of King Hassan II, led his country’s file and announced in 1998 that King Fahd bin Abdulaziz would be the main supporter of the bid, along with other international sports and artistic figures. The Moroccan attempt was praised by FIFA officials and supported by the European companies sponsoring Morocco’s bid.

The Emir was upset

The fact that King Fahd was at the forefront of the Moroccan bid made the former Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, upset. He is known for his positions that opposes the directions of the Gulf in general. That policy made him work to sabotage the Moroccan bid of hosting the World Cup. Moreover, he tried to oust Morocco by financing a British arms deal for the Algerian army, before Doha officially recognized the deal.

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Qatar led a campaign to support the competing German file at the time. The former Asian Football Confederation president, Mohammed bin Hammam (from Qatar), played an important role in changing the direction of the voters in the executive office of the International Federation a day before the vote. A Qatari company received money from the World Cup organizing committee headed by the German Franz Beckenbauer to facilitate the Bin Hammam’s task. Germany would go on to win the rights to host the World Cup after a vote that took place during the summer of 2000.

Morocco calls its ambassador

King Mohammed VI took a decision to withdraw the Moroccan ambassador Mohammed al-Arabi al-Dila’i from Doha rejecting the Qatari provocation, after Doha supported the German bid to host the 2006 World Cup and Mohammed bin Hammam, the executive board member, voted for Germany. After a boycott that lasted about four months, Qatar made an official apology to Morocco which ended in Ambassador al-Dila’i returning to Doha.

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

The Moroccan attempts to host the World cup continued in 2010. However, the presence of the Asian federation President Mohammed Bin Hammam and his team in the executive office was enough to end the Moroccans’ hopes, especially given the fact that Rabat ignored Doha once more and kept its bet on the major countries in the region.

Qatar flip-flops, finally adopting Moroccan bid

Morocco tried its chances once again for the 2026 World Cup edition, this time with Qatar changing its mind and supporting the Moroccan bid. Doha benefited from the political changes that took place in Rabat after the Justice and Development Party succeeded in reaching the premiership. This led to officials of the World Cup to respond to Qatar's demands of adopting a campaign to marginalize the Arab Federation of football which was led by Saudi Arabia since the 1970s.

Qatar intervenes heavily

Qatar announced it was dedicating its diplomatic relations and political weight to collect the majority of the votes in the General Assembly of the International Federation on June 13, 2018 in Moscow. However, Qatar’s excessive confidence in its capabilities retreated after the united bid of the United States, Canada and Mexico, which won over Morocco.  Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon  voted for to the united North American bid, underlining the inability of Qatari diplomacy to convince the Arab countries to vote for Morocco .

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

The Qatari campaign was not supported by its Iranian ally as well, which did not vote for Morocco after also refusing to vote for Americans. Observers consider this as a retreat for the Qatari role, which has limited influence. Aside from the fact that Morocco had lost the Arab Football Federation support.

Qatar’s embarrassment

Morocco’s failed bid embarrassed the Qatari government, which had marketed itself in the international forums as a powerful ally. Doha’s media attacked Saudi Arabia and the UAE to divert attention from the regional and international reluctance that Doha faced during their support of the Morocco campaign. Since the summer of 2017, Qatar had been facing a political isolation with important Arab countries because of its involvement in issues related to supporting terrorist groups and destabilizing security.

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

Morocco’s FIFA 2026 bid?

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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